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Holiness; 6. Growth (part 1 and 2), JC Ryle

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

“Grow in grace, and in knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” – II Peter 3:18

This chapter the Bishop is going to drive the reader to answer the question, “Do we grow?” He writes, “But to everyone who is downright earnest about his soul, and hungers and thirsts after spiritual life, the question ought to come home with searching power. Do we make progress in our religion? Do we grow?” He later provides the question, “Do we get on in spiritual things?” He then goes to say that there are particular seasons which we ought to really examine ourselves and ask the questions. These seasons may include a Sabbath-Eve, a Communion Sunday (which our church is having this coming Lord’s Day evening), the return of a birthday, the end of the year.

In this chapter he will cover the following:
I. The reality of religious growth – There is such a thing as “growth in grace.”
II. The marks of religious growth – There are marks by which “growth in grace” may be known.
III. The means of religious growth – There are means that must be used by those who desire “growth in grace.”

– It is a leading mark of true saints that they grow

I. There is such a thing as growth in grace
– not that a believer’s interest in Christ may grow
– not that he can grown in safety, acceptance with God, or security
– not that he can ever be more justified, more pardoned, more at peace with God
– But an increase in the degree, size, strength, vigour, and power of the graces which the Holy Spirit plants in a believer’s heart. Each of these graces admits of growth, progress, and increase. These may vary greatly in seasons.
– “When I speak of a man “growing in grace,” I mean simply that his sense of sin is becoming deeper, his faith stronger, his hope brighter, his love more extensive, his spiritual-mindedness more marked.
– You may find both Scriptual proofs for this and Fact and Experience.

A. Practical View
(a) Let us know that “growth in grace” is the best evidence of spiritual health and prosperity.
(b) Let us know that “growth in grace” is one way to be happy in our religion.
(c) Let us know that “growth in grace” is one secret of usefulness to others.
(d) Let us know that “growth in grace” pleases God.
(e) Let us know that “growth in grace” is not only a thing possible, but a thing for which believers are accountable.

II. There are marks by which growth in grace may be known
(a) One mark of “growth in grace” is increased humility. The man whose soul is “growing,” feels his own sinfulness and unworthiness more every year. The nearer he draws to God, and the more he sees of God’s holiness and perfection, the more thoroughly is he sensible of his own countless imperfections. The riper he is for glory, the more, like the ripe corn, he hangs down his head. The brighter and clearer is his light, the more he sees of the shortcomings and infirmities of his own heart. Would anyone know whether he is growing in grace? Be sure that you look within for increased humility.
(b) Another mark of “growth in grace” is increased faith and love towards our Lord Jesus Christ. He discovers a suitableness in Christ to the wants of his soul, of which the half was once not known to him. Would anyone know if he is growing in grace? then let him look within for increased knowledge of Christ.
(c) Another mark of “growth in grace” is increased holiness of life and conversation. He strives more to be conformed to the image of Christ in all things, and to follow Him as his example, as well as to trust in Him as his Saviour. On earth he thirsts and longs to have a will more entirely in unison with God’s will. Would anyone know if he is growing in grace? Then let him look within for increased holiness.
(d) Another mark of “growth in grace” is increased spirituality of taste and mind. He does not neglect his duty in the world. But the things he loves best are spiritual things. Would anyone know if he is growing in grace? Then let him look within for increasing spirituality of taste.
(e) Another mark of “growth in grace” is increase of charity. Would anyone know if he is growing in grace? The let him look within for increasing charity.
(f) One more mark of “growth in grace” is increased zeal and diligence in trying to do good to souls. A greater interest in the salvation of sinners every year. [With speaking in regards to evangelism], he will just work on, whatever the result may be – giving, praying, preaching, speaking, visiting, according to his position – and count his work its own reward. Would any one know whether he is growing in grace? Then let him look within for increased concern about the salvation of souls.

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